Preparing for Volleyball Portraits

Tomorrow I’ve got my first big gig. OK, big for me. (Update: Results!) I’m doing portraits for my daughter’s volleyball team tomorrow since the coaches hadn’t arranged for a professional, and I’m using the opportunity to really push my skills. I’ve got my own gear, and after reading about shooting a team in a gym, I decided I needed some more. So I asked my friend Tony if I could borrow some of his lighting gear, and he was happy to oblige.

Yesterday I had presented my daughter with a number of possible poses to work with. She really liked this one, so I spent the bulk of my time tonight trying to duplicate the shot. Here’s the best result that I’ll try to emulate with the rest of the team.

Right: Vivitar 285HV @ 1/2 shoot through; Left LumoPro LP120 @ 1/2 shoot through; 1/125 f/10 iso 400

Here’s what the setup for the shot looks like. Looking back at the original photo I was trying to mimic, I did a reasonable job shooting it from memory. Some of the differences I’ll try to adjust for: body should be more square to the camera, and the camera was a little too high. Some differences I won’t be able to adjust for: uniform background, lights on the floor, background lighting. I really wanted to make the background go dark, but evidently there are issues with turning the lights out in the gym. I don’t understand, but I respected the sign advising no one to turn out the lights under pain of death (kidding). Unfortunately, that meant there was way too much ambient light. Oh well.

Next I decided to try a simpler shot, against the white cinder block of the gym wall.

Left: Vivitar 285HV @ 1/4 shoot through; Right LumoPro LP120 @ 1/4 shoot through; 1/125 f/10 iso 200

Here’s how it was set up. I’m reasonably pleased with this shot, but I don’t like how the conduit crosses behind her hips. Without investing in a backdrop, I’m not sure I can do much better. I might try to light the wall with a third strobe if we take this shot.

Finally, I set up my flashes on their stands fully extended in the auditorium, pointing at the stage, to see how a team shot might work. I think this will work out fine. I might include a third strobe near the camera to help eliminate the shadows.

The part that scares me most about this shoot: volleyballs. We had the gym all to ourselves, and I had to remind my daughter several times to hold onto the ball, rather than messing with it and risking the lighting gear. If I’ve got another 15 girls roaming about, its going to be darn tough to a) keep the balls away from the equipment and b) keep people out of the reflections in the wood floor.

Categories: Photography

One Comment

  1. Anne
    Anne On October 14, 2009 at 9:24 am

    You’ll have the extra advantage of coaches there to set the rules as well as your presence, and we could make sure the balls are put away except for the one used in the shot. Once you’re set up and running, you won’t have as much downtime either, since you won’t be fiddling with settings as much.